Monthly Archives: August 2012

Road Trip Snacking

Many people are hitting the road this weekend to celebrate the 3-day weekend due to Labor Day. On road trips, it is hard to avoid eating out of boredom from staring at the road all day. While it may be easier to grab calorie-dense snacks at the gas station, packing some smart snacks before you head out will save you many calories.

1. Pack grab-and-go snacks that have a great combination of carbohydrate, protein, and fiber. Some great options are unsalted nuts, fresh fruit (apples, pears, bananas, grapes), dried fruit, cut raw veggies, whole grain crackers, pretzels, popcorn, and peanut butter. Mix and match to create new snack combinations.

2. Pre-portion your snacks into single-serving bags to prevent yourself from over eating. By eating out of a pre-portioned bag, you can avoid snacking by the handful from a large bag.

3. Bring along a cooler for even more snacking options. Keep ice in bags to prevent leaking or use an ice pack. Start with everything already refrigerated so it stays cool longer. Some cold snack options include cheese sticks, deli meat, low-fat yogurt, low fat dips, or hummus.

4. Stay hydrated but avoid over drinking calorie-dense drinks. To avoid getting bored of water, pack calorie-free water flavorings, bring along lemon or lime slices, drink unsweetened tea, or try seltzer water for a little fizz.

Have a Great Weekend!

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Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops with Pears

Autumn is creeping upon us and this is a perfect dish to make on a cool rainy evening. Packed full of fall flavors, this dish balances savory and sweet. Pair with some roasted vegetables, such as seasoned sliced brussels sprouts. 

Ingredients: 
4 (4-oz) boneless pork chops
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper as desired
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 ripe pear, cut into 16 wedges

Directions:
1. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each pork chop to form a pocket. Stuff 2 Tbsp blue cheese into each pocket. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
2. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Sauté pork for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Melt butter in pan. Add pear and sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with pork.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Information per Serving: 246 calories, 13g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat,  24.4 g protein, 81 mg cholesterol

Cooking Light October 2011

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How to: Make an Old Recipe Healthier

Everyone loves grandma’s cooking, but when you look at the recipes that you cherish so much it is often loaded in fat, calories, and sodium. While eating meals like this in moderation is okay, here are some tips to make grandma’s best recipes work for an everyday meal. You can cherish the memories while keeping your health.

Read through the recipe to find areas of improvement:
– Use salt-free seasonings to add flavor instead of salt, oil, or butter
– For sautéing on the stove, try using small amounts of olive or canola oil instead of butter or lard
– Remove skin and fat from chicken and meat prior to eating. Try pan cooking or poaching instead of frying.
– Choose lean cuts of meat, remove visible fat
– Use low fat cheeses in place of full-fat cheese
– Make your own salad dressings with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
– Replace meat with plant-based alternatives such as beans, lentils, soy products
– See my previous post –  Healthy Indredient Substitutions – for more ideas!

Remember – traditions you start today with your family will be passed down just like your grandma’s recipes were! So, make sure they are healthy!
Keep Grandma’s traditional recipes for special meals – create your own version as a healthy tribute to the past.

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Ham & Cheese Scones

These scones are a great breakfast to make ahead of time. By freezing them and only baking when needed, you always have a fresh warm scone to enjoy! Perfect to make over the weekend to enjoy during the week – just pop them in the oven while you get ready in the morning.

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
10 oz package deli ham, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 cup heavy cream (I usually use fat-free half-and-half)
1/4 cup sour cream (I use reduced-fat sour cream)

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir. Mix in 1 1/2 cups cheese, ham, and chives.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and sour cream and add to the dough mixture stirring until everything is moistened and the dough sticks together.
5. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a round that is 1 inch thick and 10 inches in diameter. Cut into wedges (i usually cut into 10-12 wedges). Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Freeze until ready to bake (at least 10 minutes). If freezing for an extended period of time, wrap the wedges in plastic wrap after the dough has hardened.
6. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle scones with remaining cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and slightly firm. Cool slightly on pan, serve warm.

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White Swai in Papillote

White swai is a light white fish – delicious and flaky! This is one of my favorite fish recipes. Very simple yet packed full of delectable flavors. Pair with brown rice or a whole-wheat dinner roll and some steamed veggies for a light and satisfying meal. 

Ingredients:
6 tsp olive oil
4 fillets white swai (feel free to swap out for a different light white fish)
salt and pepper to taste
8 thin fresh lemon slices
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 Tbsp bottled drained capers

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. On a large baking sheet, drizzle olive oil on 4 pieces of foil (large enough to make a foil packet to hold fish) with about 1/2 tsp oil each. Place 2 slices of lemon into each foil packet.
3. Pat fish dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired. Place one piece of fish on top of lemon in each foil packet.
4. Heat remaining 4 tsp olive oil in 10-inch skillet. Sauté garlic until pale golden. Add tomatoes and cook until softened. Stir in capers.
5. Spoon hot tomato mixture over fish. Top each fish with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Crimp foil packet together to form a tight seal.
6. Place in oven and cook about 10-12 minutes or until done.
7. Transfer the entire contents of the foil packet to platter for serving. Discard thyme before eating.

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10 Ways to Increase Your Vegetable Intake

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors. When following a healthy diet through MyPlate, you make half your plate fruit and vegetables. While many people can easily fit fruit into their diet through breakfast and snacking, increasing intake of vegetables tends to be harder. Here are 10 simple tips to fit more vegetables into your diet – and anyone else you are cooking for!

1. When making a frozen pizza, add your own fresh vegetables just prior to cooking. I love adding green peppers, spinach, onions, and tomatoes to my frozen pepperoni pizza!

2. Add vegetables to a homemade smoothie! See my favorite recipe – Mixed Berry Surprise Smoothie

3. Snack on crunchy vegetables and dip instead of chips. Or, try my recipe for Kale Chips – a deliciously good-for-you crunchy snack!

4. When grilling kebobs, make the skewers at least 1/2 vegetables. Or, make a completely veggie packed skewer. Mix up the veggies for fun – add squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, etc!

5. Pack your salad full of vegetables of varying colors to get maximum nutrition! Each color group of vegetables specializes in its own nutritional benefits.

6. Have cut vegetables on hand in the fridge for easy snacking. When in a hurry, you may be more likely to grab veggies when they are already cut and ready to eat! Other ideas: smart snacking

7. Stuff your omelet with veggies – experiment with it! Have a fun build-your-own omelet bar on the weekend with friends and/or family! See who makes the best combination!

8. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables for a quick steamable side dish. Frozen veggies are also great to hide in meaty casseroles for an extra nutrition punch! An easy way to get picky eaters to get in their veggies!

9. Pack in the veggies on your sandwiches. Add cucumbers, peppers, onions, lettuce, tomato, etc! Another great way to experiment with veggies.

10. Add grated, shredded, or chopped vegetables to casseroles, meatloaf, lasagna, and pasta sauce. Zucchini, carrots, and spinach are great add-ins! See my recipe for Vegetable Packed Pasta Sauce!

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Food Safety at Home

Keep your home cooked meals both delicious and safe by following proper food safety precautions. You can significantly reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses in the kitchen by following these four simple tips:

1. Wash your hands often: Wash your hands prior to cooking to rid your hands of any germs, during cooking, and after cooking. Wash your hands during cooking if you have touched raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Wash your hands after cooking to remove any traces of the meal prepared. This very important step prevents the spread of any disease from one food item to another.
The proper handwashing method: With warm soapy water, sing the happy birthday song twice (about 20 seconds). Dry with a clean towel.

2. Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate: Especially important if the raw food item is meat, poultry or seafood. I use separate color coded cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood, and fruits/vegetables. This way, I will never cross-contaminate my food!

3. Cook foods to proper temperatures: Heat kills many foodborne illnesses. You cant tell if a food item is cooked to the proper temperature by looking at it – use a calibrated thermometer for best accuracy and highest safety.

4. Refrigerate perishable foods promptly: Do not let leftovers cool on the counter for over 2 hours. To cool quickly, place food items in a wide shallow container or cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces. Label your leftovers with a date and consume within a few days. If you are unsure if a food item is safe to eat, throw it away!

If you become ill, especially with a fever, contact your health care provider. It may be a foodborne illness or influenza for they often have similar symptoms.

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